Three Key Trends to Watch in the Philadelphia Multifamily Market in 2022
By Gary Holloway Jr, president, GMH Communities
The COVID-19 pandemic served as an accelerator for transforming the Philadelphia multifamily market. Overnight, property owners and managers had to quickly adapt and find new ways to serve their residents while prioritizing their safety and following all of the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As we head into 2022, the pandemic will continue to influence what prospective tenants expect from their apartment communities. Here are three opportunities that multifamily owners should consider as the industry continues to grow and evolve in Philadelphia.
WFH is Here to Stay
Working from home is not a new trend. However, the pandemic thrust countless residents into remote work situations without warning. This sudden shift in work routines has prompted multifamily developers to rethink which amenities they need to provide now that remote and hybrid work is the norm.
At GMH Communities, we are actively growing our amenity offerings to enhance the work-from-home experience. At The Yards at Malvern, one of our newest properties that is located in the suburb of Malvern, residents have access to a robust business center with multiple small and large conference rooms with a Zoom conference room, as well as spacious tables for group or individual work, desktop computers and a printer.
In addition to formal conference rooms and a business center, the property also features nontraditional workspaces, including a clubroom with a variety of elements to create a casual and fun working area. These new features were specifically designed with professionals that work from home in mind.
Now more than ever, tenants want to create a more rigid separation between their work and home lives. With these new amenities, residents are steps away from coworking spaces where they have access to all of the resources they need for a productive workday.
Life Sciences is Booming
Another significant growth opportunity for the Philadelphia multifamily market lies within the life sciences sector.
In addition to the countless hospitals and research centers currently operating in the city, life sciences real estate development is steadily
increasing. In Newmark’s 2021 Mid-Year Life Science Overview & Market Clusters report, Philadelphia was ranked sixth among the nation’s top markets for life sciences.
The influx of companies in this sector has caused a growing need for housing that complements the work schedule and lifestyle of these students, young professionals and “third-shift workers” — those who work through the night (primarily in the medical fields). Multifamily developers in the city who can enhance their offerings now to cater to this specific demographic will see great success as this sector expands in the market.
GMH Communities’ ANOVA uCity Square, a six-story, 461-unit apartment community in University City, known as Philadelphia’s “Cellicon Valley,” encapsulates how property owners are evolving to meet the residential demand. Just this year, GMH created a new vertical in its multifamily portfolio called Innovative Living, a first-of-its-kind fusion of student and conventional housing.
As one such community, ANOVA uCity Square combines smart technology, upscale amenities and exceptional service within an innovation hub full of healthcare professionals, graduate students, professors, scientists and more.
Professionals and students in life sciences are looking for more than just an apartment: These renters have busy work lives and are seeking convenience, comfort and a property that can assist in streamlining their daily tasks.
This can be accomplished through 24/7 concierge-style service and advanced features such as smart-tech units, state-of-the-art fitness centers and coworking spaces with soundproof office pods.
In addition to multifamily growth within the city limits, prospective renters will continue to seek out apartments in the suburbs in 2022.
Throughout the pandemic, the multifamily market has seen an increase in demand for assets in the suburbs that offer privacy, space and easy access to amenities.
Next year, this shift will continue, especially among “empty nesters” and retirees. This demographic is looking to downsize to smaller rentals that do not require as much upkeep, but that still provide all the features and amenities needed to feel comfortable and fit their lifestyle.
As empty nesters and retirees seek out suburban apartments, owners and operators must keep their specific wants in mind. Developers should update their offerings by incorporating new technology, but keep features simple. If developers focus on equipping their properties with quality amenities that simplify residents’ day-to-day tasks and provide services that promote a sense of community, they are likely to see increases in occupancy and revenue.
As we head into 2022, these multifamily market trends will prove to be significant opportunities for multifamily developers, owners, managers and investors in Philadelphia. If owners can expand their offerings to meet changing market and demographic demands, 2022 will be a great year for the this market.
— This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Northeast Real Estate Business magazine.